Daniel Ricciardo feels “like a beginner” again as he adjusts to working with a new team in 2021.
The Aussie F1 star has taken time getting used to life at McLaren after leaving Renault last year and is still struggling with some aspects of the car, in particular the brakes locking up.
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He finished sixth at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, beating teammate Lando Norris in a race for the first time this year, finally making the most of his qualifying advantage over the Brit.
Ricciardo revealed he’s receiving very clear instructions from race engineer Tom Stallard, as McLaren works hard to ensure its new recruit gets up to speed as quickly as possible after some early teething problems.
“It’s like being a beginner all over again, being tutored every corner!” Ricciardo said, per the official F1 website. “‘Good job, do that better, OK, improve a bit more here’.
“Obviously the feedback I’m getting from the team is good and they’re obviously trying to get me into some good habits with this car and the characteristics.
“So things like that, whether it’s braking or the way you get on throttle, it’s something unique and I guess I’m still having to be a little bit conscious about that and teach myself enough that it does become natural.”
After a horror qualifying session the week prior in Portugal, Ricciardo enjoyed returning to the familiar surrounds of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where drivers complete their pre-season testing each year.
Knowing the track intimately helped compensate for his uncertainties with the car and he was able to hold his own across the entire weekend.
McLaren isn’t expecting Ricciardo to work wonders immediately, knowing it will take time for him to adapt, and team boss Andreas Seidl is confident the Honey Badger will turn out to be a major asset.
“I’m obviously very happy with how it went in terms of integration of Daniel into our team,” Seidl said, per motorsport.com. “I think we all know what personality Daniel is, which character he is, so I wouldn’t say that it’s a surprise how he approached these challenging first races with us.
“We are not there yet where we want to be, where Daniel wants to be but as I said many times I’m 100 per cent convinced it’s just a matter of more races and then we will see performance as we are used to from Daniel.”
McLaren is working on some upgrades to this year’s car but will soon turn its focus to development on the four-wheeler for 2022, which will be a treat to see in full flight when Ricciardo has fully come to grips with everything.
“We will see the real benefit not just in terms of speed but also in terms of his experience helping us to keep developing the car further together with Lando,” Seidl said.
“As a team boss what I need is simply two drivers that are pushing each other, that are pushing the other cars on track. Because if you want to stay in this fight in the constructors’ championship, you need to have always two cars being there, with two drivers being always in position to score good points.”
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